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Special Collection: Domestic Violence and Religion

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Introduction | Back to top

The Important Role of Faith Leaders
The Stained Glass Story of Domestic Violence

Religious and faith leaders often hold positions of great respect, trust and confidence in our society. Behind the protected walls of religious institutions, congregants often feel safe enough to disclose their most private matters and most trusted secrets to their religious leaders, including the often painful secret that they were experiencing abuse in their homes. Faith leaders can be critically important in the lives of domestic violence victims who are trying to understand what is happening to them and explore how to escape a partner's violence and abuse. A compassionate, informed and effective response by faith leaders can be life-saving for victims and their children and promote critical healing and recovery.

However, all too often, religious leaders have not responded effectively to these disclosures. Some may have felt that they did not have the knowledge, comfort level, or theological footing to respond appropriately. Some clergy and faith leaders have tried to ignore the problem of domestic violence as something of a rarity that could be resolved with greater attention to prayer and service to one’s spouse. Clergy from many faiths, steeped in the patriarchal tradition, have often viewed the man as the head of the household. Male power and dominance over women and children was an expected way of life deeply connected to the values of many religious communities—domestic violence was the often ignored and unfortunate consequence of this power imbalance. These deeply entrenched values of male privilege have proved slow to shift in modern society but important progress has been made.

In the past several decades, faith communities from a diversity of religious traditions have come forward to denounce violence against women and children and dispel the myth that scripture neither mandates nor excuses this violence. Each religion has progressed on a separate path and timeline toward greater understanding and a few notable leaders have risen up to address abuse in the home on an intrafaith and interfaith level in communities across the United States. The path to enhanced response to domestic violence by faith and religious leaders is now much clearer.

Domestic Violence: Understanding the Basics is a 1 hour interactive eLearning module that provides an overview about the dynamics, scope, and impact of domsestic violence. It explores the underlying factors that allow domestic violence to exist, offers insight into the various risks and choices that survivors face, and shares how to be part of the solution. Divided into 10 sections addressing common questions related to domestic violence, this course will help faith leaders and others achieve a basic understanding of this complex issue.
About this Special Collection

This special collection outlines how faith leaders from many different spiritual communities can become effective allies in the prevention and intervention of domestic violence in their communities. In order to become effective allies, religious leaders need to understand their proper roles and what is appropriate for them to do and not do to assist victims and abusers. This special collection addresses how clergy and faith leaders can become knowledgeable and educated on the basic dynamics of domestic violence and how to form strong and successful collaborations with domestic violence service providers in their communities. The goal is to provide faith leaders with the necessary tools to properly refer victims to expert, lifesaving help in their communities, while providing spiritual support and guidance during these times of crisis.

This collection can also serve as an important tool for secular domestic and sexual violence advocates to 1) understand the important role that faith and religious practice may play in the lives of survivors, 2) learn how to build collaborations with leaders in various faith traditions, and 3) explore ways that programs can better support the spiritual needs of families that experience abuse.

The collection is organized into 5 key sections. The first section walks through a variety of organizations, initiatives, resources, and programs that highlight how specific faith communities address violence in the home. Following that, we explore the intersections of race, ethnicity, and culture with regard to faith traditions and practices. The third section provides specific guidance for faith leaders and laity in sensitively and thoughtfully facing the complex barriers that come with working effectively to prevent and respond to domestic violence in their own community. Next, we provide sample materials and training tools for faith communities to use including statements, declarations, sermons, prayers, ministries, and congregational policies. The collection concludes by empasizing the importance of self care and offering tools that can help faith leaders facilitate that process.

A Note About Gendered Language

While all those being victimized by a partner deserve effective advocacy, protection, and support, the overwhelming majority of adult domestic violence survivors seen by local programs are women. Intimate partner violence is a gendered social problem, with women being disproprotionately targeted and harmed by male partners. For that reason, adult survivors are often referred to as "women" and "she/her" in this learning module. This is not meant to minimize the experience of men abused by male or female partners, nor to ignore the experiences of men served by domestic violence programs.

Terminology

This special collection includes resources from a variety of faiths and religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The terminology used throughout the special collection can be defined in the following manner:

  • Faith is a deep personal conviction and religion is the structure that is built around faith” (Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization of Canada).
  • Faith leader (used here synonymously with "religious leader") is inclusive of all faith communities. Faith leaders are not necessarily officially ordained and may not only belong to traditional organized religions.

faith-based and Multi-cultural Resources | Back to top

All religious and faith communities have a vital role to play in addressing the issue of domestic violence. There are a growing number of resources for faith leaders to utilize both within their own faith denominations and in interfaith collaborations across faith communities. By growing their knowledge on this important issue, faith leaders will not only help to promote healthy relationships and families but, most importantly, help to save the lives of victims and children who are relying upon them for assistance.

Bahá’í

Bahá’í Faith “The central theme of Bahá’u'lláh’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for humanity’s unification into one global society... For more than a century, the Baha’is of the United States have worked to advance the status of women by advocating policies and legislation that promote gender equality. They also collaborate with national coalitions on legislation against domestic violence; education on the health implications of violence against women; promotion of complete gender integration in development planning; and advocacy against international gender-based violence.” Advancing Toward the Equality of Women and Men from the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity (December 2009) reviews the endeavors of the Bahá’í community to this end.

  • Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (95 p.)
    by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States (Revised 2011)
    This supplement to the Bahá’í guidelines on “Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities,” offers a policy statement and recommendations for addressing domestic violence in the context of Bahá’í principles, laws, and exhortations. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of individuals and local spiritual assemblies, and offers resources and references for additional support.
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Christianity

FOCUS Ministries
“FOCUS Ministries is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization offering hope, encouragement, support, education, spiritual direction, and assistance to teens, women, and families who experience domestic violence, destructive relationships, separation, or divorce.” This organization also provides training and resources for churches to address domestic violence in their congregations.

The Rave Project
“Rave seeks to equip religious leaders to respond to domestic violence in ways that are compassionate, practical, and informed by the latest research and best practices for professionals; Rave seeks to build bridges between the steeple and the shelter; Rave seeks to walk alongside victims and survivors on their jouney towards healing and wholeness; Rave seeks to hold abusers accountable for their actions, while offering hope for a transformed life.”

Peace and Safety in the Christian Home (PASCH)
“Peace and Safety in the Christian Home is a biblically-based international network providing spiritual insights, practical resources and positive guidance to all those who in any way address domestic violence. Its outreach extends to victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, medical personnel, shelter workers, safe home providers, social workers, clergy, therapists and counselors. The primary emphasis is on God's pattern of peace and safety in the home and on the deterrence of domestic violence and abuse.”

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) International
“Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is a nonprofit organization of Christian men and women who believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women of all ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups, based on the teachings of Scriptures such as Galatians 3:28.” CBE International offers a variety of articles and resources to address abuse, including Some Biblical Thoughts on Physical, Sexual, and Verbal Abuse by Catherine Clark Kroeger (2003).

Roman Catholicism

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States.” USCCB has addressed the issue of domestic violence in the statement “When I Call For Help: A Pastoral Response To Domestic Violence Against Women."

Catholics for Family Peace Organizing Group
Catholics for Family Peace is a group of people working together to create a coordinated Catholic response to prevent domestic violence and to promote interpersonal and family peace.

Evangelical

Evangelical Covenant Church
The Evangelical Covenant Church addresses sexual assault and its related concern, domestic violence, through the Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) initiative. "As a church we acknowledge the reality of brokenness and sin in the world as well as the power of the community to heal brokenness through Jesus Christ. AVA informs, educates, and raises awareness in our congregations and communities."

Lutheran

Lutheran Advocates for Safe Families (LASF)
A collaboration between the Lutheran Community Foundation (LCF), Lutheran church bodies, and social ministries, LASF was created to inspire and refocus the movement within the Lutheran faith community to address domestic and sexual violence. LASF Safe and Healthy Families and Congregations is the first project, and its goal is to use training facilitated by FaithTrust Institute to prepare clergy and lay leadership to intervene in and prevent family violence, as well as create safe congregations and facilities.

Mennonite

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), “a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, shares God's love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. MCC envisions communities worldwide in right relationship with God, one another and creation.” MCC has developed information and tools to help address domestic violence, including worship resources, podcasts, and booklets.

Pentecostal Holiness

“Of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the 'religious unaffiliated' category (that is, they say that religion is either somewhat or very important in their lives)" (The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life).

Throughout the history of America, many African Americans have assimilated into mainline religions such as Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran, among others, with some exceptions and variations—such as the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME Zion) or the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW), for example. According to the Baylor Survey on Religion in 2010, Non-denominational churches, which for the most part are considered Protestant, are on the rise in America.

“Historically black Protestant churches comprise 6.9% of the overall adult population and slightly less than one-seventh of all Protestants. Protestantism is also comprised of numerous denominational families (e.g., Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal) that fit into one or more of the traditions" (The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life). Within this group, some denominations are “rooted” in Pentecostal Holiness (Church of God In Christ, Foursquare, etc.), which have largely functioned outside of mainstream religions—meaning those religions that are not members of the National Council of Churches.


The number next to each religious group above indicates the percentage of U.S. adults who belong to that group. (Source)

Non-Mainline Protestant churches have seen a membership increase during recent years compared to the traditional Protestant denominations. Women make up approximately 60% of the members with a predominately male leadership (The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life). Scripture supports the position that there are equally important roles in the church for both men and women (Romans 16:3, Acts 16:14 KJV). However, the “patriarchal” application of scripture coupled with the suggested “matriarchal” African American culture begins the breakdown in the church. An example would be the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), which has women in leadership roles, but only license rather than ordain women for ministry. Women who remain in COGIC accept the fact that although they are performing some of the same functions as their male counterparts in ministry, they cannot according to scripture be ordained. Further, in many cases, licensing credentials are only valid for a specific period of time as compared to being ordained, which is a one-time event to practice ministry for life.

Given the high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, the probability is extremely high that many victims and survivors are worshipping within these congregations. There exists an urgent need for women seeking help from mainstream victim service organizations to access support without feeling the need or pressure to compromise their religious tenets; as well as for leaders and lay members to understand how they can assist victims of domestic violence and remain faithful to their doctrine. Currently, there is a significant gap in this area within the Pentecostal Holiness religions and the work is only just beginning to systematically address the patriarchal culture and practices, and the misinterpretation and application of the word of God in these settings.

Daughters of The King
Daughters of The King is an initiative that focuses on the unique circumstances of women who are affiliated with churches that have their “root” (foundation) in the Pentecostal & Holiness Movements or churches that are Non-Denominational. This initiative has been designed to raise awareness of domestic violence in the church community, empower victims/survivors seeking help, and educate supporters. This is accomplished through presentations, training and resource development. Daughters of The King is a project of SOIREE (Sisters of Intellect, Righteous, Elegant & Enlighten) the women’s department of True Test Ministries, Inc. 

Presbyterian

Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network (PADVN)
 “PADVN welcomes those who promote non-violence in all relationships. They provide advocacy and resources for the prevention of and healing from societal and domestic violence.” Their website offers a variety of free resources including tools for pastors and congregational leadership to address domestic violence and congregational packets for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Seventh Day Adventist

North American Division of Seventh Day Adventist Women’s Ministries
“The mission of the Women’s Ministries Department of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists is to model Jesus Christ through meaningful relationships and effective ministries.”

  • enditnow: enditnow is a global campaign to raise awareness and advocate for the end of violence against women and girls around the world. It aims to mobilize Adventists around the world and invites other community groups to join in to resolve this worldwide issue. This campaign, which extends to more than 200 countries and territories, was launched in October 2009 in partnership between the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), a prominent humanitarian organization, and the Department of Women's Ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, two entities that are representative of the Adventist Church.

Unitarian Universalist

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian Universalism is “a religion that celebrates diversity of belief and is guided by seven principles. Our congregations are places where we gather to nurture our spirits and put our faith into action through social justice work in our communities and the wider world.” The Unitarian Universalist Association has developed resources to offer education and model policies for safer congregations, including:

  • Safe Congregation Handbook: Nurturing Healthy Boundaries in Our Faith Communities | HTML HTML
    by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (2011)
    This handbook was designed to provide education, clear policies, and moral courage in addressing breaches of trust and safety in the Unitarian Universalist faith community.
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United Church of Christ

United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries “is one of four Covenanted Ministries in the UCC, helping local congregations and all settings of the church respond to God's commandments to do justice, seek peace and effect change for a better world. The work of JWM is guided by the pronouncements and resolutions approved by the UCC at General Synod.” UCC has made an effort to provide tools for faith leaders by sponsoring webinars addressing domestic and sexual violence.

United Methodist Church

United Methodist Women
“United Methodist Women is the largest denominational faith organization for women with approximately 800,000 members whose mission is fostering spiritual growth, developing leaders and advocating for justice.” United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men have partnered to launch a domestic violence initiative to raise awareness and provide training in United Methodist congregations.

Islam

Peaceful Families Project
The Peaceful Families Project (PFP) is an organization with international reach that recognizes domestic violence is a form of oppression that affects people of all faiths. Its mission is to work towards ending all types of abuse in Muslim families by increasing awareness regarding the dynamics of domestic violence. PFP, in partnership with the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, has compiled a Directory of Domestic Violence Programs Serving Muslims and a Directory of Muslims Forum on Women’s Issues.

  • Islamic Marriage Contracts: A Resource Guide for Legal Professionals, Advocates, Imams & Communities | PDF PDF (84 p.)
    by Maha Alkhateeb for the Peaceful Families Project, Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, and Battered Women’s Justice Project (2012)
    This resource is meant to provide and clarify information about Islam and gender equality in marriage and divorce, to direct readers to the best practices that safeguard women’s rights and interests, to promote well-being and balance for all parties, and to nurture communities.
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Karamah
“KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, is a U.S.-based non profit organization that derives its name from the Arabic term 'karamah,' which means dignity. KARAMAH’s vision and mission are informed by the view that a just society values the informed participation of its members through the pursuit of knowledge, access to opportunities, and equity among all 'children of Adam,' regardless of gender or other differences. Through education, legal outreach, and advocacy, KARAMAH contributes to the understanding and promotion of human rights worldwide, particularly the rights of Muslim women under Islamic and civil law.”

Project Sakinah
“Project Sakinah is an effort to build the public will necessary to achieve lasting change in the attitudes and behaviors of Muslims around the issue of violence within families... Project Sakinah's strategy is centered on the principle that by gathering our community we can stop family violence. Ours is a grassroots movement to change people's behavior surrounding taboo issues such as domestic violence; child, sibling and elderly abuse; and child molestation within Muslim American families. We gather advocates, imams, survivors, families and friends to prevent family violence in various ways.” Project Sakinah is an initiative of Dar al Islam, a religious and educational nonprofit founded in 1979, with a history of innovative projects designed to deepen the appreciation of both Muslim and non-Muslim Americans for Islam. They offer an online Directory of Services for Muslims dealing with relationship issues and family violence.

Judaism

Jewish Women International (JWI)
JWI is a national Jewish organization focused on empowering women and girls through economic literacy; community training; healthy relationship education; and promoting women’s leadership. JWI’s “programs, advocacy and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength.” A directory of Jewish resources, including state, national and international organizations, can be accessed via JWI’s website, in addition to a comprehensive guide for Jewish clergy on domestic abuse.

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
“The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.”

  • Higher Ground: NCJW’s Domestic Violence Campaign: NCJW’s Domestic Violence Campaign is a national effort to end domestic violence by improving the economic status of women. Grounded in the understanding that economic security is critical to women’s safety, Higher Ground educates and mobilizes advocates, community-members, and decision-makers to promote progressive policy solutions that champion women’s economic autonomy. 

Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA)
“JCADA's mission is to support victims of domestic abuse to become empowered and obtain safe environments; educate community professionals and others about domestic abuse and appropriate responses to it; and prevent future generations from suffering domestic abuse by raising awareness.” JCADA serves the metro Washington, D.C. region.

Counseling, Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women (CHANA)
CHANA’s mission is “to aid individuals in the Jewish community who are victims of domestic violence by providing support, counseling and assistance, empowering women to create a safe environment for themselves and their families.” CHANA serves the greater Baltimore, MD region.

  • The Shofar Coalition: A program connected to CHANA, The Shofar Coalition's mission is “to prevent the physical, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect of children and to aid adults, adolescents and children who are suffering from the impact of traumatic experiences. The Shofar Coalition strives to create a healing community…one that responds to abuse with action rather than with silence, shame and denial.”

Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment (JSAFE)
“JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment works to promote a Jewish community in which all of its institutions and organizations conduct themselves responsibly and effectively in addressing the wrongs of domestic violence, child abuse and professional improprieties, whenever and by whomever they are perpetrated.”

Interfaith Resources

There are many valuable resources and collaborative relationships that can be gained from working across faith-based communities to address domestic violence. The following organizations have model interfaith projects.

Faith Trust Institute
FaithTrust Institute is a national, multifaith, multicultural training and education organization with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence. FaithTrust works with many communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander, Buddhist, Jewish, Latino/a, Muslim, Black, Anglo, Indigenous, Protestant and Roman Catholic. FaithTrust Institute offers a variety of training and consulting services for your congregation, denomination, seminary, or organization on the intersection of religion and domestic violence, healthy teen relationships, sexual violence, healthy boundaries for clergy and spiritual teachers, prevention of sexual abuse by clergy, and child abuse. FaithTrust Institute’s education and training resources create awareness, increase capacity for change and accountability, build local and national networks, and facilitate secular and religious collaboration.

Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence
Safe Havens interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence is a national, faith-based non-profit agency dedicated to strengthening the capacity of diverse faith communities to engage in a coordinated effort to end domestic and family violence. Working as a bridge between diverse religious communities and social service providers, Safe Havens creates systemic change by providing education, resources, advocacy, and technical support to improve access to services for all persons affected by domestic violence.

Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training, and Resource Center (TC-TAT)
Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training, and Resource Center (TC-TAT) is a national technical assistance, training, and resource center that advances new practices, skills, movement building, and policies to prevent violence against women and related forms of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, teen dating violence and gender-based bullying. This organization has a well-developed faith collaborative.

CONNECT Faith
CONNECT Faith, a NYC non-profit offers customized training programs for clergy, seminarians, members of faith-based communities and lay leaders, guidance on changing the beliefs and practices that lead to abuse, assistance in developing religious and culturally relevant programs and policies, referrals for faith-based counseling for victims, survivors and perpetrators, training for secular advocates and agencies in effective ways of addressing a client’s religious and spiritual concerns. A monthly Interfaith Theological Roundtable offers ongoing supportive and educational and healing space to discuss the practical, pastoral, theological and spiritual challenges of working with victims and perpetrators of violence in a faith-based context.

Race, Ethnicity and Culture as Critical Factors in Accessing Domestic Violence Resources | Back to top


“Domestic violence is a universal problem, but its cultural expressions differ. Drawing attention to such differences can serve to confirm stereotypes because nuanced complexities are hard to convey; but advocacy that is not rooted in cultural contexts is even more problematic.” – API Institute on Domestic Violence

This special collection will highlight Asian and Pacfic Islander, African American, Latina/o and Native American resources that have been developed to specifically address the cultural differences of domestic violence in these communities. Research has shown that it is necessary to develop specialized cultural resources, as victims of these cultural backgrounds may not feel comfortable accessing mainstream services that may not be appropriately focused on cultural nuances and the historical and different experiences of violence in these communities. Furthermore, many faith-based communities are formed around race, ethnic, and/or cultural identities so these resources can further assist faith leaders of homogeneous religious communities' access more culturally specific resources.

African American
This special collection includes specific resources for African American victims regardless of their religious affiliation. As noted by scholars from The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, the “‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to domestic violence services being provided in mainstream communities would not suffice for African Americans, who disproportionately experience stressors that can create conditions that lead to violence in the home.” Therefore, African Americans may not feel comfortable accessing other mainstream resources unless they feel these services have the capacity to understand the African American experience as it relates to their experiences.

The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
“The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) is an organization focused on the unique circumstances of African Americans as they face issues related to domestic violence, including intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder maltreatment, and community violence. IDVAAC’s mission is to enhance society’s understanding of and ability to end violence in the African American community.” This organization has developed materials exploring the intersection of spirituality, religion and domestic violence in the African American Community:

  • The Intersection of Spirituality, Religion, and Intimate Partner Violence in the African American Community: “The Intersection of Spirituality, Religion, and Intimate Partner Violence in the African American Community explores the role of the Black church in addressing intimate partner violence. The monograph offers information that supports the notion that, because of its standing and influence, the Black Church has an exceptional opportunity to play an active role in addressing intimate partner violence in the African American community. The document concludes with a set of recommendations for domestic violence and sexual assault service providers on how they can incorporate spiritual elements into their programs. Likewise, the monograph offers suggestions for clergy on how they can facilitate healing for victims of intimate partner violence and address perpetrators.”
Asian
This special collection includes specific resources for Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander victims who may feel strongly connected to their cultural group in accessing resources, regardless of their religious affiliation. “…For some (but not all) Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, the patterns, types and dynamics of domestic violence differ (APIIDV).” These cultural differences may include multiple batterers including family and marital family members who work alone or together in perpetrating abuse, which may look different from domestic violence experienced by other cultures.

Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
“The Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence is a national resource center and clearinghouse on gender violence in Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. It serves a national network of community-based organizations; advocates and professionals in legal, health, mental health, and social services; government agencies; state coalitions; national domestic and sexual violence organizations; and activists from communities and social justice organizations working to eliminate violence against women. Its goals are to strengthen advocacy, promote community organizing, and influence systems change. It identifies and addresses critical issues, provides technical assistance and training, conducts research, and engages in policy advocacy.” This organization provides training curricula, tools, resources, and translated materials, including:

ASHA for Women
“ASHA means ‘hope’ in several South Asian languages. ASHA for Women, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicates its services to provide community-based, culturally-competent support to South Asian women and their children who have faced domestic violence in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. ASHA for Women was one of the first South Asian domestic violence organizations to be formed in the United States. Founded in 1989, it was created in response to the needs of South Asian women who face language, cultural, and social barriers, and fall through the cracks of the domestic violence service system.”

API Chaya
"The mission of the API Chaya is to organize communities; to educate, train, and offer technical assistance; and to provide comprehensive culturally relevant services on domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, service providers, survivors, and their families. We are one of the few organizations in the country that serves Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, survivors, and their families. We also assist mainstream service providers who serve API refugees and immigrants." API Chaya is based in Seattle, WA.

Latina/o
Latina/o cultures, customs, and traditions influence the type of support, advocacy, and services that Latina/o survivors seek as well as the choices that they make. This collection highlights resources available to support advocacy and work within Latina/o communities.

Alianza: National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence
The National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (Alianza) was established to address the particular needs and concerns of communities of color experiencing family violence. Alianza specifically addresses the needs of Latino/a families and communities, although its work helps to inform the domestic violence field in general. Alianza’s work has been in four main areas: community education, policy advocacy, research, and training and technical assistance. It has grown into a national network of Latina and Latino advocates, practitioners, researchers, activists, and survivors of domestic violence.

Casa de Esperanza
"Our starting point in supporting Latinas and our communities is their strength; we assist them to recognize their strengths, build on them and reach their goals. Effective responses to domestic violence are shaped by the lived realities of Latinas and facilitate support systems 'where they live.' It is the community that will end domestic violence, not Casa de Esperanza or any other system or organization. Casa de Esperanza works to enhance social capitalbecause we believe that it decreases domestic violence. Social capital refers to the trust, reciprocity, information and co-operation that are developed through social networks."

  • The National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities a project of Casa de Esperanza, is committed to providing timely and relevant information and resources to people working to prevent and eliminate domestic violence within Latin@ communities. The English/Spanish bilingual site features a resource library; public policy updates and action alerts; informative videos; training opportunities; and a blog among other culturally-specific information. Advocates, organizers, practitioners, social workers, judges, activists, youth workers and anyone working to promote safe and healthy Latin@ families and communities will find the site useful.
Native American
This special collection contains specialized resources for Native American women who may not have the same access to mainstream domestic violence services due to their specific cultural experience.

National Indigenous Women's Resource Center
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a Native nonprofit organization that was created specifically to serve as the National Indian Resource Center (NIRC) Addressing Domestic Violence and Safety for Indian Women. NIWRC seeks to enhance the capacity of American Indian and Alaska Native (Native) tribes, Native Hawaiians, and Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations to respond to domestic violence.

Role of Faith Leaders and Laity in Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention | Back to top

Communities of faith play a unique and vital role in the response to and elimination of domestic violence, as they carry the responsibility to protect and nurture the spiritual wellbeing of the community as a whole and its individual members. Victims and survivors of domestic violence may turn to faith leaders for spiritual guidance and support before or instead of secular domestic violence services, because of the unique dimension they can add to the sometimes overwhelming experience of seeking help. Similarly, batterers may also turn to faith leaders, perhaps either as a means of legitimizing the abuse or to seek guidance and support in understanding and changing behaviors. Faith leaders may be asked, then, to provide spiritual guidance and counseling to both the victim and the perpetrator.

This requires efforts by faith leaders to not only acknowledge domestic violence but also to continually educate themselves and the entire community and to join in creating responses to domestic violence that are safe and supportive for victims and survivors. Yet responses to domestic violence cannot exist without careful attention to the safety of the victim as well as some form of accountability for the abusive partner. When faith communities make an effort to examine issues of batterer accountability, in addition to those of victim safety and empowerment, they are better able to create a response that meets the needs of individuals and their communities. This section offers tools, including information on best practices, model policies, and successful collaborations, to support faith leaders in their efforts to prevent and respond to domestic violence in the community.

"Interpersonal violence in families can take on many forms and ranges from abuse of our elderly, to abuse of a spouse or intimate partner, to abuse of our children. As clergy, we are often aware of the violence our families experience, but not always aware of how we can best intervene and provide support, and even whether we are required by law to take further steps." - Rabbi David Rose for Jewish Women International, 2011
Best practices for faith leaders and laity in assisting domestic violence victims
  • faith-based Wheel | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
    This wheel demonstrates the ideal response of community faith leaders to domestic violence.
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  • Faith Communities: Domestic Violence Protocol | PDF PDF (62 p.)
    by The State of New Hampshire Governor’s Commission Domestic and Sexual Violence and Attorney General’s Office
    This report outlines best practice protocols for faith leaders to use in responding to victims and abusers in their faith communities.
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  • Suggestions for Clergy and Faith Community Leaders and Members Responding to Victims and Survivors of Intimate Partner Abuse | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence (2012)
    This tip sheet offers guidance to clergy and faith community leaders in how to be victim centered in helping victims of domestic violence.
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  • Embracing Justice: A Guide for Jewish Clergy on Domestic Abuse | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by Jewish Women International (2011 Updated Edition)
    This guide offers key information and resources to support rabbis and cantors in working with domestic violence victims, families, and perpetrators.
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  • Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by the FaithTrust Institute (2009)
    This DVD for purchase “addresses how religious teachings have been misused to perpetuate abuse and how religious communities can work proactively to end domestic violence.”
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  • Abuse: Response and Prevention | HTML HTML
    by the Mennonite Central Committee (2013)
    This booklet addresses how to respond when someone discloses they are experiencing abuse and is intended for church leaders.
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  • Tips for Social Workers, Counselors, Health Workers, Teachers, Clergy, and Others Helping Victims of Rape, Domestic Violence, and Child Abuse | PDF PDF (17 p.)
    by Marie De Santis for Women's Justice Center/ Centro de Justicia Para Mujeres
    Provides basic information on how to respond to victims/survivors of violence for those who may have limited formal training on violence against women and children.
    + View Summary
Barriers in addressing domestic violence in faith-based communities
  • Domestic Violence And Communities of Faith: An Information Packet | PDF PDF (39 p.)
    by the North Carolina Council for Women and Domestic Violence Commission
    This information packet outlines barriers that victims may face when contemplating leaving abusive relationships.
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  • Barriers to Leaving an Abusive Relationship | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Stop Relationship Abuse.org
    This brochure outlines the reasons why victims may struggle with leaving an abusive relationship.
    + View Summary
Creating successful partnerships between faith-based communities and local domestic violence programs

"Work to end domestic violence is a marathon, not a sprint."
- Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence

  • Faith in Violence-Free Families: Building Partnerships for Change | PDF PDF (175 p.)
    by Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training and Resource Center (TC-TAT)
    This workbook is the companion piece to a workshop for faith-basedleaders and domestic violence advocates. It highlights many prevention topics including barriers for help seekers and barriers for faith leaders and assisting those in need of help.
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  • Partnering to Address Faith and Safety: A Guide for Faith Leaders and Domestic and Sexual Violence Service Providers to Assist Older Victims of Abuse | PDF PDF (28 p.)
    by Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (2013)
    This guide provides ideas, best practices and strategies for domestic and sexual violence service providers and faith leaders to build partnerships that support older victims and survivors.
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Where Faith and Safety Meet: Faith Communities Respond to Elder Abuse is a resource page from Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life that offers helpful tools for collaboration between faith leaders and domestic and sexual violence service providers to best respond to the needs of older victims of abuse.

  • One in Spirit: Domestic Violence Advocates and Faith and Spiritual Leaders Working in Partnership to End Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (54 p.)
    by Transforming Communities Technical Assistance, Training and Resource Center (December 2010)
    This publication captures the rich dialogue, successes, lessons learned and strategic questions from TC-TAT’s involvement in over 8 years of domestic violence prevention in faith and spiritual communities.
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  • Violence Against Women and the Role of Religion | PDF PDF (8 p.)
    by Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune and Rabbi Cindy G. Enger (March 2005)
    This document provides an overview of some of the basic issues and questions that confront religiously identified women who have experienced abuse, and outlines strategies for clergy and secular anti-violence advocates to reach out to one another.
    + View Summary
  • Outreach and Training for Local Faith-Based Organizations | PDF PDF (31 p.)
    by Safe Havens
    This document draws on Safe Haven’s experiences and provides information to PFJCI Chaplaincy Services leaders about good practices regarding outreach and training faith-based organizations to respond effectively and safely to domestic violence.
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  • Walking Together: Working with Women from Diverse Spiritual Traditions | HTML HTML
    by FaithTrust Institute (2005)
    This guide for purchase is geared toward providing advocates strategies and suggestions for effective collaborations with religious communities.
    + View Summary
  • Family Violence Prevention Project Program Guide
    by Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence
    This report highlights the collaborative interfaith work of the Family Violence Prevention Project and provides information on creating successful partnerships between faith-based communities and local domestic violence programs/advocates.
    + View Summary
Mandatory reporting and its ethical tensions
The issue of when clergy are mandatory reporters can be both legally complicated and ethically challenging. It is important for all professionals to accurately understand the reporting requirements in their state and to understand that not all professionals (e.g. clergy, therapists, etc.) have the same reporting requirements within a state. Additionally, certain state laws only require formally ordained clergy, rather than other informal faith leaders, to be encompassed within the mandatory reporting requirement, so it is important to keep that in mind in assessing obligations to report certain types of abuse and neglect as the following resources lay out.
  • Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting: A Clergy Dilemma? | PDF PDF (6 p.)
    by Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune (2010)
    This article discusses the clergy dilemma of confidentiality and mandatory reporting and how this dilemma can be put into context against the backdrop of their state mandatory reporting laws to ultimately help clergy protect victims of violence.
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  • Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect | PDF PDF (19 p.)
    by Child Welfare Information Gateway (2012)
    This report gives a state-by-state accounting of when clergy are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect.
    + View Summary
  • Clergy Communications and Clergy as Mandatory Reporters | PDF PDF (210 p.)
    by National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, National District Attorneys Association (2012)
    This report gives a state-by-state accounting of when clergy are mandated reporters of child maltreatment.
    + View Summary
  • Unit 10: Mandatory Clergy Reporting | HTML HTML
    by Faith Community Professional Education Initiative (FCPEI)
    This PowerPoint training seeks to “educate clergy and faith-oriented counselors about their legal mandates, obligations, and responsibilities with regard to reporting sexual assault, sexual abuse, child and elder abuse and domestic violence.”
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How faith leaders respond when there is a domestic violence homicide in their congregation. Is forgiveness even possible?

“Despite our experience, faith, and seminary training; despite Tom’s thirty years of ministry and my ten, nothing could have prepared us for this crisis. It would have been helpful, however, to be able to access resources to assist us as we made our way through such unfamiliar territory.” - PDVN
  • Clergy Response to Domestic Violence | DOC (91 p.)
    by The Clergy Committee of the York Task Force on Domestic Violence (2009)
    This comprehensive guide seeks to “equip religious leaders and respond appropriately” to domestic violence in their faith communities.
    + View Summary
  • Shafia Murders: Imams Issue Fatwa Against Honour Killings, Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by Canadian Press (2012)
    This article highlights how the Canadian Muslim community responded by condemning “honour killings, domestic violence and misogyny as "un-Islamic,” following the murder convictions of an Islamic man and his son who were found guilty of killing four female family members in 2009.
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  • Domestic Violence Homicide Response Plan: A Toolkit for Domestic Violence Programs | PDF PDF (40 p.)
    by The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    This toolkit starts from the reality that any community can experience a domestic violence homicide. It provides a framework for programs and their communities to develop a plan that will provide guidance in responding to a domestic violence homicide, whether the victim had been a client or not.
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  • Violent Death in the Community of Faith | PDF PDF (20 p.)
    by Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network (2012)
    The resources provided by PADVN in this packet represent a beginning effort to develop a body of material that will be helpful to any person of faith who finds themselves on this journey. Original worship material, personal reflections, study aids and previously published work are included.
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  • Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice? | HTML HTML
    by Paul Tullis, New York Times (2013)
    This article describes how parents of a domestic violence victim (Ann) coped with her murder by her boyfriend (Conor) and ultimately used the process of restorative justice (controversial in domestic violence cases) to heal and find forgiveness with the help of their strong religious beliefs.
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Ann’s parents strive to model their lives on those of Jesus and St. Augustine, and forgiveness is deep in their creed. “I realized it was not just Ann asking me to forgive Conor, it was Jesus Christ,” Andy recalls. “And I hadn’t said no to him before, and I wasn’t going to start then.” - Paul Tullis for the New York Times
  • Forgiveness: The Last Step | HTML HTML
    by Marie M. Fortune in Carol J. Adams & Marie M. Fortune, eds. Violence against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook (Continuum 1995)
    This article discusses the importance of the forgiveness in the experience of family violence for both Christian victims and offenders.
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Creating a Safe Space for Faith Communities to Address Domestic Violence | Back to top

WeWillSpeakOut.Us is a faith-based movement of diverse faith groups from across the US joining together with other leaders for action and advocacy to end the silence around sexual and gender based violence. "Our mission is to work at local, national and global levels to raise awareness, care for victims, encourage law enforcement and change our culture of tolerance and inaction."
Denominational statements and declarations

Statements

Many religious communities now have denominational statements speaking out against domestic violence and other social injustices. This can be helpful in understanding which religions have progressed to this point and which others are still striving for that goal. This section highlights examples of statements and declarations from different denominations.
  • Denominational Statements for Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    Compiled by the Religious Institute Faithful Voices on Sexuality and Religion
    This resource offers a compilation of up to date information about the official position of major religious denominations in the U.S. concerning a variety of topics including domestic violence. This ever-evolving resource can be searched by religious affiliation, topic, or keyword.
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  • Men, Women, and Biblical Equality | HTML HTML
    by CBE International (1989)
    This statement, available in 31 languages, lays out the biblical rationale for gender equality, as well as its practical applications in the family and community of believers.
    + View Summary

Declarations

It is important to build momentum on local, state and national levels to encourage clergy and key stakeholders to address issues of violence against women. The following declarations offer an opportunity to advocate in this way.
  • National Declaration by Religious and Spiritual Leaders to Address Violence Against Women | HTML HTML
    Compiled by FaithTrust Institutey
    This national declaration invites religious leaders and concerned individuals of all faiths to sign on to commit to using religious texts and teachings to eradicate violence against women.
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National Declaration by Religious and Spiritual Leaders to Address Violence Against Women
We proclaim with one voice as national spiritual and religious leaders 
that violence against women exists in all communities, including our own, and 
is morally, spiritually and universally intolerable.

 We acknowledge that our sacred texts, traditions and values have too often been 
misused to perpetuate and condone abuse.

 We commit ourselves to working toward the day when all women 
will be safe and abuse will be no more.

 We draw upon our healing texts and practices to help 
make our families and societies whole.

 Our religious and spiritual traditions compel us to work for justice and the eradication of 
violence against women.

 We call upon people of all religious and spiritual traditions to join us.
FaithTrust Institute

  • Youth Declaration by Religious and Spiritual Leaders to Address Youth Relationship Violence | HTML HTML
    Compiled by FaithTrust Institute
    This youth declaration invites religious leaders and concerned individuals of all faiths to sign on to commit to helping teach healthy relationships to youth in religious communities and to address teen dating violence.
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Training for faith communities
Faith communities are becoming increasingly aware of the need to create an awareness of domestic violence within faith communities, as well as the need for training and education about the dynamics of domestic violence and the role that faith plays in individuals’ lives. Included in this section are training resources to assist faith leaders in more effectively addressing domestic violence within their communities.

The FaithTrust Institute offers training and consulting services for your congregation, denomination, seminary, or organization on the intersection of religion and domestic violence, healthy teen relationships, sexual violence, healthy boundaries for clergy, prevention of sexual abuse by clergy, and child abuse. Contact training@faithtrustinstitute.org to request a training to meet your needs.

Jewish Women International offers domestic violence prevention training opportunities that empower clergy, social workers, teachers, parents, lawyers, advocates, mental health professionals – everyone positioned to touch a child, teen, adult or family at risk.

The Rave Project offers online training series for pastors and Christian clergy on effectively responding to victims of domestic violence in the church. Materials guide faith leaders through understanding domestic violence, building bridges with the community, promoting healing, and offering hope and inspiration.

The United Church of Christ Webinar Archive offers a variety of presentations on preventing and responding to domestic violence in communities of faith.
  • Domestic Violence: Understanding the Basics | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and VAWnet, the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (November 2012)
    This 1 hour interactive eLearning module addresses 10 common questions related to domestic violence to help new advocates, allied professionals, students, and the general public achieve a basic understanding of this complex issue.
    + View Summary
  • Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by the FaithTrust Institute (2009)
    This DVD for purchase “addresses how religious teachings have been misused to perpetuate abuse and how religious communities can work proactively to end domestic violence.”
    + View Summary
  • Family Violence Prevention Project Program Guide
    by Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence
    This report highlights the collaborative interfaith work of the Family Violence Prevention Project, providing the religious community with information and tools to respond to and prevent domestic violence in congregations and the community at large.
    + View Summary
  • Training Professionals in the Primary Prevention of Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence: A Planning Guide | PDF PDF (86 p.)
    by Deborah Fisher, Karen S. Lang, and Jocelyn Wheaton for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010)
    This Guide describes how to develop, implement, and evaluate a training process, taking into account your available level of resources - by turning awareness and knowledge into mastered skills and practices to prevent sexual or intimate partner violence.
    + View Summary
  • When the Vow Breaks (Abbreviated Version) | HTML HTML [5:10]
    by Jewish Women International (2011)
    This is an abbreviated version of a 16-minute documentary with first hand accounts from domestic violence survivors and commentary from rabbis and a social worker experienced in treating victims and survivors of abuse. The full version of the film is part of an awareness toolkit that can help to correct the common misconception that domestic abuse does not happen in Jewish homes.
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  • Safe Sacred Space Training Materials | HTML HTML
    by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence
    The goal of this initiative is to prepare sacred community leaders, including clergy and lay leaders, to respond to domestic violence within the context of their sacred traditions.
    + View Summary
  • Unit 3: Pastoral Trauma Care | HTML HTML
    by Faith Community Professional Education Initiative (FCPEI)
    This multimedia training seeks to educate clergy and faith-oriented counselors about providing appropriate pastoral trauma care to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
    + View Summary
  • When Push Comes to Shove...It's No Longer Love (Abbreviated Version) | HTML HTML [3:36]
    by Jewish Women International (2011)
    This is an abbreviated version of the video about teen dating violence in the Jewish community that is part of Jewish Women International's When Push Comes to Shove...It's No Longer Love® program.
    + View Summary
  • Read Reflect Respond: Religious Reflections on Abuse | HTML HTML
    by The Rave Project
    This eLearning series series directs Christian pastors to read articles and engage with other eLearners on the topics of recognizing people in need and calling on themes from Biblical texts to respond to victims of abuse.
    + View Summary
Sermons & Prayers
Resources in this section proide guidance on and highlight the importance of addressing domestic violence into religious sermons and services.

"There are so many reasons why we preachers do not preach about violence against women and girls. The main reason is that we are afraid. We don't want to say the wrong thing or scare anyone away or offend anyone. So instead we just say nothing...We hope that someone else will preach about it." - Elizabeth J.A. Siwo-Okundi, during the 16 Days of Activism (VIDEO)

Find links to sample sermons, prayers, and text studies that address domestic violence in faith communities from Jewish Women International and The RAVE Project.
  • How to Preach About Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by the FaithTrust Institute (2013)
    This webinar guides clergy and faith leaders on how to effectively preach about domestic violence in their faith communities.
    + View Summary
  • Domestic Violence Resource Guide for Faith Leaders | PDF PDF (101 p.)
    by The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Domestic Violence Council (2001)
    This guide for faith leaders contains examples of sermons addressing domestic violence from multiple faith perspectives.
    + View Summary
  • Domestic Violence Outreach Sermon | HTML HTML [21:06]
    by the Family Ministries Archdiocese of Chicago
    This sermon focuses on bringing awareness to congregations on domestic violence.
    + View Summary
  • When Violence Comes Home | HTML HTML
    by Rev. Robert S. Owens for the Rave Project
    This sermon was preached in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by a pastor with many years of experience in ministry with victims of domestic violence and their families. “This is where it must begin, in our own churches and in our own homes; for if it does not begin here and there, why should we expect it to happen anywhere?”.
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  • Be More. Date. Don’t Abuse. | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by the Be More Campaign (2012)
    This call to action is to encourage African American men to participate in a sermon contest to speak out against domestic violence.
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  • 2009 National Sermon Contest Winners | HTML HTML
    from FaithTrust Institute (2009)
    All three sermons offered here extend the message beyond naming the abuse of women to a discussion of what are we doing about it in our own faith communities.
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  • National Day of Unity Interfaith Prayer | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Marie Fortune for the FaithTrust Institute (2012)
    Intercessory prayer is simply defined as the act of praying on behalf of another or others. This prayer leads congregations in a group meditation and prayer for healing, strength, and continued courage.
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  • Sh’ma Kolenu – Prayer for Victims of Domestic Abuse | HTML HTML
    from Jewish Women International (2004)
    This is a prayer on behalf of victims/survivors of domestic abuse in the Jewish community offers inspiration for faith leaders and others reaching out to the faith community.
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  • Parashat Tazria-Metzora | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by Rabbi Rachel Ain for Jewish Women International
    This sermon addresses the importance of shalom bayit, peace in the home, for Jewish faith communities and calls on the congregation to be part of the solution.
    + View Summary
  • Parashat Kedoshim | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Rabbi David Rose for Jewish Women International
    This sermon stresses the importance of bystander intervention in domestic violence for the Jewish community, noting: “One of the most important things you can do as a community member is spread the message that disclosing abuse is okay - and that if someone discloses abuse they will be believed.”
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  • Prayers that offer hope | HTML HTML
    by the Rave Project
    The prayers offered on this page address Christian communities to offer inspiration and hope in recovering and healing from abuse.
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Creating ministries and promoting inclusion
Offered in this section are resources providing tools and guidance for creating domestic violence ministries and building inclusiveness of diverse groups, including LGBTQ survivors.

Women's Ministries

CONNECT Women offers training, technical assistance, and resources, on the topic of empowerment to women and girls in faith communities. CONNECT Women celebrates the power, wisdom, and resilience of women by offering transformative education, support, and space for women to gather, share experiences, and think critically and creatively about what it means to be women living in a culture where violence against women is the norm. "All CONNECT Women programming is trauma- informed and explores the ways gender, race, class and sexuality shape our responses to Intimate violence."

  • Ministry to Survivors of Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ (2011)
    There are survivors in all of our churches. How can clergy and churches become safe places and people for survivors to seek help? What are the roles and goals of clergy of the congregation in response to domestic violence?
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  • Women Ministries Handbook | HTML HTML
    by Tamyra Horst
    This handbook for purchase is a resource for women’s ministries directors and leaders on how to start a women’s ministry in their congregation.
    + View Summary
  • A Radical Act of Love: Gender Analysis for Everyone | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by the National Council of Churches USA, The Justice for Women Working Group
    Gender Analysis is a tool that empowers individuals and communities to identify and understand how differently gendered people are affected by systems of power in cultural, economic, social, civil, legal, political, religious, racial, and ethnic situations.
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  • Setting Up a Domestic Violence Ministry | PDF PDF (586 p.)
    by the Family Ministries Archdiocese of Chicago (Updated 2013)
    This resource provides information on needed steps to forming a domestic violence ministry, background reading, tips related to incoming calls to the Parish and how to keep track of calls, among others.
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Engaging Men and Boys

"Faith-based organizations represent a critical ally in prevention efforts. Millions of men across the nation participate in faith-based communities whose leaders, often male, typically enjoy significant moral authority and shape in important ways the values and behavior of the men in their congregations." – Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune for Futures Without Violence

For more information on engaging men and boys generally in addressing violence against women, please visit the special collection Men & Boys: Preventing Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence.
  • Founding Fathers Campaign Flyer | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Futures Without Violence
    This campaign is one of several designed by Futures Without Violence to mobilize men to do their part to eradicate violence against women.
    + View Summary
  • Men’s Ministry: Men Stopping Violence Against Women | HTML HTML
    by Justice and Witness Ministries United Church of Christ and FaithTrust Institute (March 2011)
    This webinar addresses the fundamentals of gender based violence and reviews successful secular community-based and church models for men to stop and prevent domestic violence.
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"Religious traditions and beliefs can influence masculinity with their dominant stories of what a man’s ‘role’ should be in his home, community, and religious institution. If religious leaders can create environments for healthy dialogue and allow men to express themselves comfortably without using traditional gender role assignments, healthy masculinity and faith can beneficially support one another." – Health Masculinity Action Project
  • Healthy Masculinity Summit Report | PDF PDF (23 p.)
    by Healthy Masculinity Action Project, Men Can Stop Rape (2012)
    This report summarizes the Healthy Masculinity Summit that "set out to highlight and explore how healthy masculinity can positively impact society and how to spread healthy masculinity in a variety of areas (athletics, faith, technology, business, youth development, education, communities of color, fatherhood, gender-based violence, and many more)."
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Youth and Teen Dating Violence

CONNECT Youth: "Many young and teenage victims and survivors of family violence feel powerless. They often suffer in silence because they lack a support system within the community that provides understanding and nurturing. CONNECT Youth is dedicated to empowering them with tools that encourage healing and enable them to become active community members and positive support systems for each other. CONNECT Youth consists of two youth-based groups: Girls Empowerment and Transitioning into Men that provide safe spaces for young victims of abuse and enable them to transform their lives and gain confidence for the future."

  • Domestic Violence Outreach Manual | PDF PDF (586 p.) HTML HTML
    by the Family Ministries Archdiocese of Chicago (Updated 2013)
    This manual covers many topics including children’s exposure to violence and teen dating violence.
    + View Summary
  • Teen Dating Violence Awareness Bulletin Insert  | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by FaithTrust Institute
    This brochure provides information and resources for congregations to address teen dating violence. It can be printed and inserted in a faith community’s weekly bulletin.
    + View Summary
  • Teen Dating Violence: What Every Parent Needs to Know | HTML HTML
    presented by Rev. Al Miles for FaithTrust Institute (February 2013)y
    This webinar addresses the dynamics of teen dating violence, including tactics, warning signs, and statistics; facilitates planning collaborative efforts with your faith community regarding this topic; and offers educational resources for your family, your teen, or your congregation.
    + View Summary

LGBTQ Inclusion

The issue of the faith-based community working with LGBTQ victims of domestic violence is a growing field. Currently, there are not very many resources available; however, the issue is expanding in development and reach. To learn more about the issue of LGBTQ and domestic violence, please visit the Special Collection: Sexual Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, or Queer (LGBTIQ) Communities.
  • Acting Out Loud | HTML HTML
    by the Religious Institute
    ACTING OUT LOUD is a guide for faith communities that want to move beyond welcome toward a wider embrace of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.
    + View Summary
  • Setting Captives Free: Intimate Partner Violence in LGBT Relationships | HTML HTML
    by Justice and Witness Ministries United Church of Christ and FaithTrust Institute (December 2011)
    How can our faith communities be prepared to be a pastoral resource for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people who experience intimate partner violence? This webinar recording offers guidance to pastors of open and affirming (ONA) churches in addressing intimate partner violence in same-sex couples.
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Creating congregational policies to address domestic violence
For additional information and training related to congregational policies to address domestic violence, please refer to the organizations listed under Interfaith Resources.
  • A Policy Statement on Domestic Violence Couples Counseling | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    Phyllis B. Frank, M.A. and Beverly D. Houghton, Ph.D. for the Volunteer for Counseling Service of Rockland Co., Inc.
    This policy statement argues against using couple counseling as a therapeutic tool in the context of domestic violence.
    + View Summary
  • Domestic Violence Resource Guide for Faith Leaders | PDF PDF (101 p.)
    by The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Domestic Violence Council
    This guide for faith leaders contains a model congregational policy to suggest best practices for supporting victim employees and holding accountable abuser employees.
    + View Summary
  • Faith in Violence-Free Families: Building Partnerships for Change | PDF PDF (175 p.)
    by Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training and Resource Center (TC-TAT)
    This workbook, that is the companion piece to a workshop, provides examples of congregational policies and statements to support a violence-free community.
    + View Summary
  • Eve’s Peace Toolkit: Ending Violence by Establishing Policies to Enhance and Create Equity | PDF PDF (36 p.)
    by the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2011)
    The goal of the toolkit is to increase the capacity of among faith leaders and communities to engage in work which shifts the norms, attitudes and beliefs of individuals, peer groups, families and communities to increase support of healthy relationships and to improve the response to domestic violence within their congregations.
    + View Summary
  • Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (95 p.)
    by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States (Revised 2011)
    This supplement to the Bahá’í guidelines on “Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities,” offers a policy statement and recommendations for addressing domestic violence in the context of Bahá’í principles, laws, and exhortations. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of individuals and local spiritual assemblies, and offers resources and references for additional support.
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Self Care for faith leaders | Back to top

It is essential for all professionals, including faith leaders, working with domestic abuse victims to take good care of themselves physically, psychologically, and spiritually on a consistent basis. Providing pastoral support to victims in crisis can be very stressful and it can be difficult to leave the work "at the office." It is important for faith leaders to recognize the signs of secondary or vicarious trauma and have the resources they need to care for themselves so they can be strong, healthy, and resilient to help others. The following are some suggested resources for faith leaders to identify and treat vicarious trauma.

  • Faith in Violence-Free Families: Building Partnerships for Change | PDF PDF (175 p.)
    by Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training and Resource Center (TC-TAT)
    This workbook, that is the companion piece to a workshop, offers tips for clergy in providing self-care in working with victims of trauma.
    + View Summary
  • Unit 9: Vicarious Trauma | HTML HTML
    by Faith Community Professional Education Initiative (FCPEI)
    This multimedia training seeks to educate clergy and faith-oriented counselors about vicarious trauma in working with victims of abuse.
    + View Summary
  • Family Violence Prevention Project Program Guide
    by Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence
    This report highlights the collaborative interfaith work of the Family Violence Prevention Project and provides tips on self-care for doing the difficult work of supporting abuse victims.
    + View Summary
"Ultimately, the strength we all need to engage this difficult topic comes from our faith itself." - Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence
  • Signs and Symptoms of Vicarious Trauma | HTML HTML
    by the Headington Institute
    This page outlines some of the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma.
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  • Self-Care Self-Assessment Checklists and Measures | HTML HTML
    by the University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work
    This page provides various self-assessment checklists and measures to examine different aspects of one’s current wellbeing.
    + View Summary

Bibliography | Back to top

Clark, R. (2005). Setting the Captives Free: A Christian Theology for Domestic Violence. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
This book is an “appeal to you to gain an understanding of what it really means to face domestic violence and how to help bring peace and wholeness to victims and their children caught in the web of abuse. It is an appeal to you to confront those who abuse others rather than shut your eyes..."

Clark, R. (2009). Freeing the Oppressed: A Call to Christians Concerning Domestic Abuse. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
“In Setting the Captives Free Ron Clark proposed a theology of addressing domestic violence and its application for clergy. Freeing the Oppressed is a book that seeks to condense Clark's previous work into a readable form for those seeking spiritual answers concerning abuse and batterer intervention, and for helpers of those caught in the cycle of family violence. It is also designed as an outreach for those seeking help from the faith community.”

Fortune, M.M. (1995). Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins. Available from FaithTrust Institute: http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org
“This booklet is written for Christian women who are uncertain about Biblical perspectives on domestic violence. Suggestions for the abused individual as well as the pastor and layperson are outlined to demonstrate various options of dealing with domestic violence.”

Gardsbane, D. (Ed.) (2002). Embracing Justice: A Resource Guide for Rabbis on Domestic Abuse. Washington, DC: Jewish Women International. Available from Jewish Women International: http://www.jwi.org/
“Offers an in depth view of abuse in the Jewish community and includes sample sermons and text studies, tools for talking with victims and perpetrators, a comprehensive list of resources, safety planning for abused women, information on Agunot, and ideas for community response.”

Kroeger , C. C., Nason-Clark, N., & Fisher-Townsend, B. (Eds.) (2008). Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home: Raising Voices for Change. South Hamilton, MA: House of Prisca and Aquila.
“Every home should be a safe place; every home a shelter. When abuse occurs in families of faith, it is the responsibility of the church to offer compassion and support to victims and to call those who act abusively to accountability and justice.” This collection includes: “Dan Allender speaking from the heart about the impact of the fall on relationships between men and women; Al Miles reflecting on his pastoral experience of the difficulties and opportunities of speaking out against violence in Christian families; Bruce and Karen McAndless-Davis offering one couple's story of the long journey toward accountability and dramatic change; Julie Owens retelling her own dramatic story of abuse, the life imprisonment of her ex-partner and what she wished every pastor knew about domestic violence.”

Kroeger , C. C., & Nason-Clark, N. (2001). No Place for Abuse: Biblical & Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
“Containing true stories and statistics, this book takes a look at what Christian scripture says about domestic violence, including verbal abuse and patterns of concealment, secrecy and silence, and demonstrates how proper concerns for Christian families can be twisted to endanger women and their children. An assessment of alternatives to suffering in silence is outlined as well. Includes practical tools for interviewing victims and perpetrators, outlines for sermons, Bible studies, and youth activities that address the problem of domestic violence.”

Kroeger , C. C., Nason-Clark, N., & Fisher-Townsend, B. (Eds.) (2011). Responding to Abuse in Christian Homes: A Challenge to Churches and their Leaders. South Hamilton, MA: House of Prisca and Aquila.
“This book is here to help. It represents a collective effort to bring all of us a step farther in our journey of walking with Christ over a sea of troubled waters. (…) Throughout the collection we provide an opportunity to examine a diversity of perspectives, with the hope that each will in some way advance our understanding of the complexity of domestic violence issues in our midst-within our churches and the communities where our churches minister.”

McClure, J.S., & Ramsay, N.J., eds. (1998). Telling the Truth: Preaching About Sexual and Domestic Violence. Berea, OH: United Church Press.
"Virtually every congregation in North America has victims, survivors, or perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence in its midst. Pastors and church members unambiguously support marital and family bonds, but many lack the skills and experience needed to help both the abused and their abusers to recover. Telling the Truth gathers the wisdom of experts from across disciplines and denominations - including Wendy Farley, James Poling, and Marie Fortune - to provide pastors and laity with the theological and ethical grounding from which to preach, teach, and minister to both the abused and those who have victimized them. Presenting practical, hands-on resources, and encompassing biblical and theological perspectives, pastoral helps, and preaching strategies, this comprehensive volume also provides several sermons as effective models for ministering to victims and perpetrators alike."

Miles, Al. (2011). Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress.
“The new edition of Domestic Violence builds upon the insights, policies, and programs of the original volume and includes new information on the pathology of domestic violence and the effect the economic downturn is having on victim-survivors and batterers. Miles also focuses on helping clergy and other pastoral ministers develop a more compassionate response to victim-survivors who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. This thoroughly updated edition includes questions for discussion, a list of additional resources, and contact information for state coalitions working to end domestic violence.”

Miles, Al. (2005). Ending Violence in Teen Dating Relationships, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress.
“Al Miles, a nationally recognized expert in the field of domestic and teen relationship violence awareness, teaches parents, educators, and pastors about the abuse tactics being used against their teens. Miles helps readers understand how offenders use popular culture and Christian traditions to excuse and justify their violence. And most important, he offers parents and pastors key strategies to build bridges with the teens in their lives and protect them, in order to end violence in teen dating relationships.”

Nason-Clark, N., & Kroeger, C. C. (2004). Refuge from Abuse: Healing and Hope for Abused Christian Women. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
The authors supply “both here-and-now, step-by-step advice you need to start the healing journey and biblical insights to nourish your soul and sustain you on the path to wholeness.”

*See also: Muslim Women and Domestic Violence Bibliography by the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence.

*See also: FaithTrust Institute Bibliography on Sexual and Domestic Violence by the FaithTrust Institute.